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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Protecting People with Disabilities and Special Needs: More Bureaucracy in New York

     Politicians are something else. Whenever there is a social problem that isn't being dealt with properly by a bloated, corrupt government, instead of firing the useless and corrupt bureaucrats, they simply create another government agency to deal with the problem not being solved by the existing bureaucracy. On the federal level, the creation of the Homeland Security Office, with a politician in charge, is a good example of this kind of governmental excess. Making an already dysfunctional state or federal system bigger creates its own problem.

     Last month, in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators announced they were going to create a new law enforcement agency. It's going to be called the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. The new agency will feature a special prosecutor with subpoena power and the authority to convene grand juries. District attorneys across the state already have this authority.

     In New York state, there are 1 million people with disabilities and special needs. (I have no idea how they define "special needs" in New York.) The disabled include people who suffer from autism, cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, traumatic brain injuries, and mental retardation. Why do these individuals need special law enforcement protection? The state already has a massive law enforcement infrastructure, and there are six state agencies in place to serve this constituency. They are: The Office of Mental Health; the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services; the Heath Department; the Education Department; and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

     So, what's the problem? In 2011, there were 10,000 allegations of abuse against the state's disabled person population. (No one knows how many rapes, assaults and cases of neglect go unreported.)  These crimes are committed by government employees (and some private contract workers) who are supposed to be caring for these people. The abuses occur because lax hiring procedures expose disabled people to criminals protected by public employee unions and agency administrators who cover-up these crimes to save their own careers (and pensions).

     Instead of reforming the existing system by weeding out the abusers, and punishing administrators who cover up these crimes, Governor Cuomo and the legislators have done what all local politicians do in big government states like New York, they've created another agency. And when that law enforcement bureaucracy fails to do the job, they will add another layer of government on top of that mess. Eventually these feel-good measures start to feel bad, and fool fewer and fewer taxpayers.         

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